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Published:July 21st, 2008 05:55 EST
Obama in Baghdad

Obama in Baghdad

By SOP newswire

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has arrived in Baghdad for a closely-watched visit to Iraq-- a key issue in the U.S. election.

Senator Obama is expected to meet with senior Iraqi officials.Senator Obama is expected to meet with senior Iraqi officials and U.S. military commanders during his visit Monday.   

Obama is a long-time critic of the war in Iraq-- unlike his Republican opponent, Senator John McCain.  Obama has suggested a 16-month timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq if elected president.  McCain has called for a longterm U.S. security commitment to Iraq.

On Sunday, Obama stopped in Kuwait after visiting Afghanistan, where he described the country`s situation as "precarious and urgent."

Obama said it is time for the United States to withdraw some combat troops from Iraq and move them to Afghanistan, which he says should be the focus of U.S. anti-terrorism efforts.

Obama also met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul.  Karzai spokesman Homayoon Hamedzada says Obama expressed a commitment to supporting Afghanistan and continuing the fight against terrorism.

Obama is traveling with two other U.S. senators: Republican Chuck Hagel and Democrat Jack Reed. They also plan to visit Israel and Jordan during their Middle East tour, before moving on to Europe.

Obama had been expected to visit Iraq and Afghanistan during his overseas tour, but the itinerary was not made public for security reasons.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.